"First Army Performed Many
For Which It Was Never Acclaimed"
BY HAL BOYLE
Associated Press war correspondent,
BERLIN, May 8, 1946 - (AP) - One year ago this week the finest
army that ever fought under the American flag ceased battle operations,
its victory won. This was the United States First Army. Because
neither of the two men who commanded it had a flair for personal
publicity, it never had the acclaim won by General George Patton's
famous Third Army. It galls many wearers of the square black
"A" shoulder patch [and the 3AD Spearhead patch] that
the public and some staff officers of the Third Army still believe
that Patton engineered the break through at St. Lo, took Paris,
and made the initial crossing of the Rhine.
All these and many more battle feats were performed by the
First Army. No outfit has suffered more from the public adulation
of that great and grand figure, George Patton, than the patient
First Army. Let's thumbtack the old battle maps back on the wall,
and give them an anniversary gander. They show us that it was
the First Army that spearheaded into Normandy in the greatest
amphibious operation of the war.
It was the First Army that captured Cherbourg, first great
continental port to fall. It was the First Army that broke the
German defensive crust at St. Lo, turning the battle of France
into a hare-and-hounds chase. Some Patton divisions were in the
attack, but the main wedge was First Army troops. It was the
First Army that took Paris. The American Fourth Infantry Division
of the First Army had to boot skylarking French tankmen into
town to claim the glory of liberating their own capital. The
Third Army was miles away and heading toward Metz.
It was the First Army that first entered Germany on September
11,1944. It was the First Army that captured the first German
city, Aachen. It was the First Army that first crossed the Rhine
river by the epic seizure of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen.
It was the First Army that made the longest armored march in
history in a single day during the smash from the Rhine, a feat
accomplished by the late Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, Commander of
the 3rd Armored Division.
It was the First Army alone that attacked simultaneously in
two directions, taking more than 260,000 prisoners in the "Rose
pocket" in the Ruhr to the west while driving steadily eastward
toward the Elbe river. And it was on the banks of that stream
that the First Army first made contact with the Russians, ending
Europe's greatest squeeze play and the war.
The First Army was led in turn by Gen. Omar N. Bradley of
Missouri and Lieut. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges, a gentleman from
Georgia who began army life as a private.
Patton and the Third Army did a swell job. But he does not
need and never wanted the credit that belongs to the First U.S.